Faithful and Free
Readings: Dan 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Jn 8:31-42
"If you remain in My word, you will truly be My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Jn 8:31-32
When we first met Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan 1), we learned that they were "Israelites of royal blood and of the nobility," intelligent and quick to learn. Because of their value, they were taken into the king of Babylon's service.
How would they be able to remain faithful to God in a pagan land? To begin with, the king allotted these men daily portions from the royal table's food and wine — which might have been offered to gods or in other ways contrary to their dietary laws. They proposed a test in which to avoid eating this food. After ten days of eating their vegetable allotments, they looked healthier than any who had eaten from the royal table (see 1:15). So, they were allowed to continue to eat according to their faith. God blessed them with knowledge and wisdom (1:17), and the king advanced them since he found them to be ten times better than his other advisors (1:20).
Now, in today's first reading, they face a greater challenge to remain faithful to God: worship the king's golden statue, or be incinerated! Because of their faithfulness, the men are bound and are about to be cast into the furnace.
They didn't know if God willed for them to be saved, but they knew that God could save them. They walk in the flames singing the praises of God!
As they did in Daniel 1, they remain true to their heritage and constant in their faith. And the Lord miraculously sets them free! The fire had no power over their bodies or garments (3:94).
Jesus' listeners in today's Gospel reading also had the opportunity to remain faithful to their heritage and to their God. Some had believed in Jesus. He advises them to remain in His word and be truly free.
This advice, sadly, wasn't accepted. How will we respond today?
Dear Jesus, this world challenges me to deny Your word. May I remain faithful so that I may enjoy the freedom only You can offer. Amen.
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